*Editor's Note: We published a version of this review using a prototype model of the Black Widow Holster. Spider has since made some adjustments to the design and sent us a revised, fully-functional and production ready unit. Our review has been edited to reflect these design enhancements.
Lugging around a heavy DSLR or prosumer camera can be a cumbersome task, especially if you are dealing with other activities at the same time. Outside of camera straps, few options have existed to help with this problem. That is until the Spider camera holster system. In this review, we take a look at the new Black Widow Holster, aimed at the average Joe instead of the professional photographer.
The Spider holster system is rather ingenious in the way it is designed and implemented. Almost every digital camera is designed to work with a tripod through a standard size threaded hole in the bottom. Depending on the camera, it might be plastic or metal but almost every camera has one. The Spider-system uses an attachment plate or pin that screws directly into this mount, giving users complete universal compatibility regardless of the camera manufacturer. Once the plate or pin is attached, just slide it into the receiving plate and be on your way.
Up until now, Spider has only catered to the professional photographer, with a very rugged and durable all-metal camera mount system. The system we are reviewing today is the lightweight and slightly less durable consumer version called the Black Widow Holster. Selling for $55 versus $105, the newer setup uses a plastic receiving end and is targeted towards users who own smaller lightweight DSLRs or prosumer point-and-shoot cameras. The Black Widow is also different in that the pin can be unscrewed from a receiving plate and bolted directly into the tripod mount. While perhaps not the best idea on larger cameras, this method works well on lighter digital cameras which might not have behemoth pro-grade lenses mounted to the front.
We tested the Spider Black Widow Holster around the office and around town with a Pentax K20 and 16-45mm lens. Not the heaviest camera setup, but also not the lightest either. We also tried out both mounting options, with varying levels of success. The stock method is using the attachment plate, screwed in with a quick-release tripod mount. The secondary method, aimed mostly at smaller point-and-shoot models, is screwing the ball head directly into the tripod mount of the camera.
The mounting plate is made of stamped stainless steel with two plastic nubs that prevent the camera body from rotating on the plate. To install it onto the camera, you have the ball-head facing forward (direction of the lens) and slide the plate down until the two plastic buttons come in contact with the camera body. These prevent the plate from rotating counterclockwise which would have the negative side effect of loosening the plate. While not as overbuilt as the Spider Pro, the Spider Black Widow gets the job done for almost half the price. The only thing we felt that could be improved with this mounting option is an included screw for users who don't intend to use a quick-release tripod mount bracket.
The second mounting system is screwing the pin directly into the bottom of the camera. On a lighter point and shoot camera this method works well because of how small the camera is in both volume and weight. To use this method to hold a DSLR, you would risk loosening the screw hole without spreading out the force across the bottom of the camera body, and on top of it you would have the camera resting in an awkward position at your side. On a small prosumer model like the Canon G12, it would rest flat on your leg and not be any worse for wear.
Overall the Spider Black Widow holster system works well and is compatible with a wide range of cameras. The mounting plate setup was very easy to understand, although it does require that you rely on a tripod quick-release plate to secure it to your camera. If you are in the market for this type of holster, the Black Widow is great for entry to mid-level DSLRs and smaller prosumer point-and-shoot cameras.